Monday, January 22, 2007

Indigo at the Whitworth Gallery

An invitation from Ann French, textile conservator at the Whitworth Gallery (aka Ann of the reading group) to the opening last Friday of the show she has been working round the clock to prepare: Indigo. It's a fantastic array of historical and contemporary indigo-dyed fabrics and garments from around the world, from ancient ceremonial garments to modern workwear and designer denims. The exhibition thus traces the history of indigo dyeing which has become almost obsolete but which in some parts of the world is now being revived.

The place was packed, and there was a huge buzz, and it was impossible to study everything properly, which I'm looking forward to doing another time. Ann suggested that I went upstairs where it was quieter and look at the connected installations by two Japanese artists, and sure enough I was blown away. The installation pictured above is by Hiroyuki Shindo and 'references the ceremonial banners seen in picture scrolls of the Japanese Heian period'. The banners are indigo-dyed by the 'Shiboni' method, the fabric pleated around two tensioned cylinders. The balls scattered on the ground beneath the banners, which the artist doesn't mind being knocked around as people walk through the installation, are covered in indigo-dyed fabric.

The reading group were there in force, getting too drunk as usual to look properly at the show, and Clare took the picture. Needless to say, afterwards there was a reading group dinner in the curry mile just down the road.

Indigo will continue at the Whitworth until 15th April, after which it will tour to Plymouth and Brighton.

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